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Searching for gold

Using technology to find the Olympic heroes of 2010 and beyond

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According to the research, it takes 10 years or approximately 10,000 hours of dedicated training to produce an Olympic athlete.

When you consider that the average age for Olympic competitors is 27, with an age range that stretches from about 16 years old to the mid-30s, a hero of the 2010 Winter Olympics could be anywhere between seven years old and 24 right about now.

Some of these athletes will have committed themselves to a sport or two already, and many are already in the sport system at some level, usually with a school or club team or possibly with a high performance program. Few among them will have any idea of their potential – 2010 is still a long way off.

And then there are the younger kids, in elementary and middle schools, who still have no idea what they are capable of achieving. They try a few sports in gym class, and after school head to whatever sports they’ve signed up to play – usually the same sports their older siblings, friends and parents have chosen.

While they may play a lot of different sports growing cup, a typical child’s exposure to some of the specialized Olympic sports is often limited to what they see on television every four years. The reality is that thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of children in Canada with the potential to become professional or Olympic athletes won’t even have an opportunity to try the different sports that they might be most proficient in.

At least that’s the state of Canadian sport development as it stands right now – things could be a lot different in six months once Sport Search gets off the ground.

Sport Search is part of the LegaciesNow program which was developed by the provincial government and Vancouver Whistler 2010 Bid Corporation to "provide promising young B.C. athletes with world class programs and services so that they may train with the best, compete with the best, and simply become the best."

LegaciesNow was created with the idea that "Whether you win or lose, a bid should leave a system stronger," says Charles Parkinson, Director of Sport for the 2010 Bid Corporation. "The bid shouldn’t take resources out and leave everybody with an empty feeling. It should enhance your entire sport system in the province, and it’s through programs like Sport Search that that can happen.

"This is a really tangible way that a bid can be felt everywhere, in Houston, B.C. or in Fort St. John, or in Castlegar, or in Nanaimo – if a bid is for Vancouver and Whistler, a lot of people would ask ‘how does this impact us?’ Well this is a prime example of how a bid can be a catalyst to help the system throughout the province, and ultimately throughout Canada."

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